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Briand E.,University of Rennes 1 | Briand E.,French Natural History Museum | Bormans M.,University of Rennes 1 | Quiblier C.,French Natural History Museum | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

The cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa is known to proliferate in freshwater ecosystems and to produce microcystins. It is now well established that much of the variability of bloom toxicity is due to differences in the relative proportions of microcystin-producing and non-microcystin-producing cells in cyanobacterial populations. In an attempt to elucidate changes in their relative proportions during cyanobacterial blooms, we compared the fitness of the microcystin-producing M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 strain (WT) to that of its non-microcystin-producing mutant (MT). We investigated the effects of two light intensities and of limiting and non-limiting nitrate concentrations on the growth of these strains in monoculture and co-culture experiments. We also monitored various physiological parameters, and microcystin production by the WT strain. In monoculture experiments, no significant difference was found between the growth rates or physiological characteristics of the two strains during the exponential growth phase. In contrast, the MT strain was found to dominate the WT strain in co-culture experiments under favorable growth conditions. Moreover, we also found an increase in the growth rate of the MT strain and in the cellular MC content of the WT strain. Our findings suggest that differences in the fitness of these two strains under optimum growth conditions were attributable to the cost to microcystin-producing cells of producing microcystins, and to the putative existence of cooperation processes involving direct interactions between these strains. © 2012 Briand et al.

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